I try not to go into shows with many preconceived ideas, however my expectations were high for this year's Celebrity Theatresports show. I hadn't been before, but had heard about its long tradition and popularity. This only affirms my former resolution, because I felt disappointed with the show, even though it was well done and had many great moments.
What marred it the most for me was our seating, which was a few rows from the back of the National Theatre in St Kilda, and so I couldn't clearly see facial expressions and also couldn't hear a lot of what was said. Another downside was that I didn't recognise a single person on stage. My husband did better – he thought he knew two of them. I didn't expect to know them all – celebrities are expensive, after all – but would have loved to have recognised a few. However, that doesn't diminish the quality of many of the actors on stage.
The show's strength lay in the wide variety of improv games used, which demanded a huge array of performance skill. While there weren't many jokes or great one-liners, there was plenty to laugh at as the actors tackled each different challenge and gave us moments of inventive genius. The range of talent displayed in every wildly different scene was impressive; we saw opera, Star Wars The Musical, different accents every 30 seconds, and the creation of the Horror-Western genre.
It was fun to see the actors struggle with whatever was thrown at them, and how they heckled each other as they went. (I would love to mention the stand out performers, but there was no program or list available.) The sideline activity was often the most funny. While only one team performed at a time, the members of the other three teams often felt the need to embellish their opponent's scene (always to great effect). This created a beautiful sense of camaraderie; the aspect of competition seems only to be there to create extra conflict and atmosphere, which it does fantastically.
This would be a great show to bring your kids to, as they do their best to keep it clean (well, mostly). The audience and performers all seemed to be having a ball. There was a wonderful feeling of involvement and interaction, which was strongly encouraged by the MC. Not only did the audience get to suggest ideas, but there were many moments during the show when the lights came on and we had lollies thrown to us. Theatresports Rule #1: Feed Audience Sugar. This will keep them happy and awake throughout a long show.
2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Venue: The National Theatre | 20 Carlisle Street, St Kilda
Date/Time: 7:30pm Saturday 14th April 2012
Tickets: $35 Full, $25 Conc, Groups 8+ $25, Under 15s $20
Bookings: www.nationaltheatre.org.au | (03) 9525 4611